ADA Compliance and What It Means for Your Website.

Have you ever tried watching a video without sound? Without subtitles too? Now imagine how difficult it’d be to read a website while blind. This is why the ADA is pushing to create new virtual entryways into the world wide web.

The Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law that was created to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination and is now a topic of importance concerning the online world. It’s meant to remove any “access barriers” that would hinder a disabled person’s access to a business’s good or service and applies to state and local government, public and private places, employment, building codes, transportation, and telecommunication. In 1990, when the ADA was created, the internet was still fairly new and overlooked as this act was aimed to remove physical barriers, not virtual ones.

Activists have recently begun looking into this topic to ensure fair access to the internet for everyone. In 2010, the US Department of Justice issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking stating they intend to amend the language in the act to ensure it included website accessibility which means it’ll take effect soon; it has been reported as soon as early 2018.

What this means is your website will soon need to comply with these guidelines to ensure people with hearing or vision disabilities will be able to easily use your site. Website developers will need to make the site on par with 4 standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium that include: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.

Man holding technology

To comply successfully, some changes will have to occur. Videos will need captioning and audio; pictures and images will need typed descriptions for the blind and every other aspect of the site will need to be usable for anyone’s disability. This is important to know when creating websites for it’s the responsibility of the web developer to think about accessibility when designing new sites. It’s possible to optimize for both and it’ll require a little more consideration for all users, not solely Google and ranking. Here’s a list of what’s going to need to be addressed soon concerning your website.

  • Images have alternate text that can be read by screen reader software.
  • Recorded video content includes captions.
  • Video or audio-only content is accompanied by text transcript or description.
  • Links are provided to media players required to view content.
  • Headings are presented in logical order.
  • “b” and “i” tags are replaced with “strong” and “em.”
  • There are no empty links or heading tags.
  • Presentation does not rely solely on color.
  • Automatically-played audio does not occur or can be stopped.
  • The keyboard can be used to navigate the site.
  • Keyboard focus is never stuck on one particular page element.
  • Time limits provide notifications to the user.
  • Automatically scrolling or blinking content can be stopped.
  • No strobe effects or rapidly flashing colors occur on the site.
  • Page titles clearly and succinctly describe page content.
  • Buttons and links are clearly and logically named.
  • The language of each page is identified in code.
  • Elements receiving focus do not change content in a substantial way.
  • Invalid form input is identified to the user.
  • Forms have labels and legends that can be read by screen reader software.
  • Live video or audio content includes captions.
  • Contrast ratio between text and page backgrounds is at least 4.5-to-1.
  • Text on pages can be resized to 200% while still maintaining form.
  • Images are not used where text can achieve the same purpose.
  • Pages on the site can be accessed in multiple ways.
  • Keyboard focus is visible and clear.
  • The language of content is identified in code with any language changes.
  • Menus and buttons are used consistently regardless of the user’s location in the site.
  • Users are given suggestions on how to solve input errors.
  • An error prevention technique is used whenever the user is entering sensitive data.
  • Underlined text that does not provide a link is removed.


What you need to know is change is coming. These new legal requirements have been on the horizon and get closer every day. Accessibility optimization will serve to create better content that is usable by more, making the internet a better place for everyone.